The Chip Kelly era will officially begin at the draft as the new coach starts trying to shape this team in his own way. Of course keep in mind this is Philadelphia we are talking about and no matter who he takes with the fourth overall pick, Eagles fans are probably going to hate it.
Philadelphia couldn't block anyone last year and the most common phrase you heard if you were an Eagles fan in 2012 was "Michael Vick hit as he throws." Vick took an absolute pounding and it's tough to win in the NFL if you can't at least give your quarterback a fighting chance. With that being said, if somehow either offensive tackles Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher slide down to the number four spot, the Eagles have to grab one.
However, Kelly could pull a fast one and go after a quarterback that really fits his up-tempo style of attack. Vick five or six years ago would have been perfect, but today with all those miles and hits he has taken it's hard to believe he would be ideal for Kelly's spread system. Former Oregon pivot Dennis Dixon was brought in and knows the offense, but he is very inexperienced. So what are the chances Kelly makes a play for Geno Smith? It's not the craziest idea in the world and he is just the type of athlete who could achieve success with Kelly. Despite still having Nick Foles, who showed some flashes of brilliance last season, on the roster as well, going after Smith wouldn't be shocking.
Philadelphia has to address the defensive side of the ball also. There have been rumblings that they plan to switch to a 3-4 and that is going to be a major challenge without the right personnel. Specifically finding a bigger defensive end in the first few rounds who can take on an extra blocker is going to be key. Datone Jones of UCLA or Margus Hunt of SMU should be two guys that could work and if the Eagles are lucky they may be available in the second round.
The Cowboys fell just short of the playoffs once again and will be looking to the draft to make sure that doesn't happen next year. Tony Romo is now locked up long-term, so Dallas can look to add to the pieces around him in hopes of making a championship run.
For a team that gave up plenty of big passing plays in 2012, picking up a safety to play alongside newly signed Will Allen is a must. Kenny Vaccaro of Texas figures to be available when the Cowboys pick 18th overall and that should be someone they waste no time in selecting. Vaccaro had a strong season for the Longhorns in 2012 recording 107 tackles to go along with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. His combination of size and speed should make him a good pro.
Dallas also needs to fix the middle of their offensive line as the Cowboys finished second last in the NFL in rushing in 2012 by averaging less than 80 yards a game. They would be wise to look at guards who are mobile in the later rounds of this draft so they can create holes in the running game, as well as pass protect. Alvin Bailey of Arkansas and Hugh Thornton of Illinois are two that come to mind who project to go in the third and fourth rounds respectively.
The Cowboys should also look at a receiver that can play behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. One thing they really lacked last year was that extra production they lost when third receiver Laurent Robinson left after the 2011 season.
New York Giants
The Giants struggled down the stretch late last season and it was clear their defense needs some work. During a three-game span in December, New York gave up a total of 1,414 yards and 94 points. So saying they need to upgrade that area would be a big understatement.
The G-Men pick 19th and that may be the perfect spot to snatch up linebacker Alec Ogletree from Georgia. The Giants are thin at middle linebacker and Ogletree was a tackling machine last season for the Bulldogs. He recorded 98 stops in just 9 games and as a former safety he has no shortage of athleticism. They could also look at Manti Te'o and Kevin Minter who would be an excellent upgrade to give New York's tackling some much needed improvement.
Not only did the Giants give up plenty of plays on the ground late in the season last year, but they gave up big chunks of yardage in the passing game as well. You would think defensive backs would be a source of strength for them, but Corey Webster really got exposed and Terrell Thomas just can't stay healthy. Youngsters Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley could turn into good players, but if the Giants were smart they would look at a corner for some insurance in this draft.
New York should also add some depth at both the defensive and offensive line positions. Both groups are aging and grooming replacements sooner rather than later would be proactive.
Washington doesn't have a first round pick because they traded it to St. Louis for the rights to draft RG3 last year. I'm sure they're not too broken up about that as long as the pivot that led them to a surprising division title in 2012 comes back healthy in September.
The Redskins were explosive offensively last season, but the other side of the ball left a lot to be desired. They gave up over 280 yards passing a game in 2012 and that was good enough for third worst in the NFL. So coming into this draft looking at safeties and corners will be vital to turning things around. Having to wait until the second round to make a pick hurts them a bit, but Washington could still get their hands on free safety Phillip Thomas from Fresno State at that stage. Thomas has 4.5 speed and impressed last season with eight interceptions and three of those he returned for touchdowns. He was also named a Thorpe Award Finalist and has created 20 turnovers during his collegiate career.
Washington would be wise to not just stop there and pursue a corner as well. If they want to play the high risk high reward game with that position, then Tyrann Mathieu would certainly fall into that category. The former LSU star would have surely been a first round pick, but several off field issues got him kicked off the team and he didn't play football last season. In 2011, however, his skills were on full display as he was a Heisman finalist after making 70 tackles and forcing an SEC-leading six fumbles. There are certainly risks involved in selecting him, but Washington could hit the jackpot with Mathieu if he gets his head on straight.
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